Two E Bar/Lounge at The Pierre
Newsflash: I had caviar for the first time today!
Alex and I had an amazing afternoon tea at the Two E Bar/Lounge at The Pierre Hotel. Alex found an amazing Groupon deal ($110 value!) and we wanted to celebrate both our graduations!
The Pierre is a hotel that sort of smacks you in the face with a sense of swankiness and fancy-pants-ness as soon as the doorman ushers you inside the revolving doors. I was tingling with excitement when we turned the corner into the Two E Bar/Lounge just off the lobby. The lounge has these funny square columns with color-changing lights that illuminate their black stony sides. That seemed a bit out of place next to the rest of the decor: classy, minimalist, and fairly monochrome. We sat on a couch in a quiet corner and proceeded to extend our pinkies. (Then we realized that the place wasn't necessarily super fancy because people were in shorts and jeans...). Alex ordered The Pierre Blend tea (black tea with bergamot and vanilla notes) and I had my requisite Earl Grey tea. Our waiter brought out two small glass teapots that had tea leaves brewing in a little well in the center. Our teas tasted similar except that the Earl Grey had the very distinct Earl Grey smell. Mmmmmm!!
Next, we had the three-tiered plates of afternoon tea food. On top, we had some adorable tea sandwiches that were no bigger than two bites apiece. In the middle, we had the typical scones with clotted cream, raspberry jam, and a new addition to my afternoon teas: lemon curd. On the bottom plate were all sorts of pastries and sweets.
The funny thing we noticed about afternoon tea food is that it definitely doesn't look like a lot of food and I sometimes even feel a little disappointed when I see the tier come out...but then of course as I get to plate #3, I feel like I can never eat food again. The same thing happened today, even though each piece of food was tiny!
I also realized that my ideal afternoon tea would consist of tea and more savory sandwiches than sweets. I had two little blinis topped with caviar (two because Alex no likey seafood or...fish eggs, I guess). I heard caviar was very salty, which I finally understood: the little black beads were fantastically salty and fishy, but also surprisingly and unexpectedly tasty! I didn't taste the blini under it at all, it was that overpowering.
Next, we nibbled around the plate to: salmon and cream cheese. The fish had a purely salmon flavor. The tiny sandwich was topped with caramelized onions and was an amazing pairing to the salmon. Surprisingly, neither the salmon nor the onions overpowered the other, and both flavors stood out well. I love salmon and lox so this was right up my alley! Then, a crostini of balsamic portobello, grilled red bell pepper, and buffalo mozzarella. I guess they were going for an Italian-style sandwich, and we thought it was tasty, though not extremely remarkable. We ate another little sandwich of dates, feta cheese, boursin cheese, and spinach. I had no idea what this was at the time (I'm looking at the menu online now) but what I thought it was originally was crispy bacon on top of goat cheese and spinach. I guess my taste buds were totally off, but the slivers of "dates" were cooked in a way that they took on this rich, salty flavor. Then, another typical afternoon tea sandwich of cucumbers, dill, and cream cheese. It was both fresh and refreshing after having a bunch of savory bites. Finally, there were two cute little bread bowls of deviled eggs and curry chicken, which were both creamy and deliciously flavored.
Definitely we had lots of sips between bites. Next, we moved onto the very important scones: cranberry scones with clotted cream, raspberry jam, and lemon curd. The scones were tasty, but probably would have been better if they were warm. The clotted cream would be a delicious addition to basically anything, and the lemon curd was a new scone topping that we've never experienced at high tea, but was definitely welcome. It was very sweet and tart, with a texture close to applesauce.
Finally, we had tons of sweets to end the tea service: plain cookies, lemon apricot cookies, brandy cherry financier (a spongy cake soaked in brandy, I suppose), coffee opera cake (layered with chocolate ganache and coffee cream and perhaps hazelnut), lemon meringue (DELICIOUSSSSS), coffee eclair, and mini tarts with blueberries and raspberries.
Oh gosh, talk about sugar rush and sugar crash! All the sweets were tasty, but after a while, for me at least, everything was starting to taste similar and perhaps a bit excessive. Alex, though, is a sweet tooth so I'm sure he would have had entire plates of just sugary baked goods to accompany his tea, any day!
Overall, I was really happy with afternoon tea at The Pierre! Keep in mind we had an enormous discount, though...it's pretty expensive on its own. I'm starting to plan my own high tea in my mind...let's see if I can achieve an affordable replica!